April 15, 2010
A Wonderful Songbook from the beginning of the 20th Century.
'Ye olden time songs of a simpler life' is a beautifully produced 324-page songbook from the beginning of the 20th Century.
Within are 56 well-known songs selected by Chas. E. Ware, and they are complete with lyrics, vocal score and full piano score. Works include favorites such as Henry Bishop's 'Home Sweet Home', Stephen Foster's 'My Old Kentucky Home' and 'Camptown Races'. There are also traditional tunes such as 'Pop Goes the Weasel' and well-known Scottish songs, 'Annie Laurie' and Burns' 'Comin' thro' the Rye' for example, although they represent only part of the collection.
Taking pride of place and easily accessible at the front of the book is the great Rabbie [Robert] Burns' 'Auld Lang Syne'.
Interspersed throughout the book on left hand pages, is a wonderful collection of late 19th--early 20th Century full-page pictorial photographs of scenic landmarks from the American countryside, most of which were photographed from or accessed by major railway routes such as the Southern Railway, Rock Island and Frisco Lines. One might think these pictures would be incongruous with the book's main theme of traditional songs but somehow they are remarkably complementary.
The design of the cover is quite striking: it has a dark almost-Brunswick green background with the book's title in large black stylized font. The exception is the word 'Songs' which is emblazoned across the cover in very large gold embossing, this effect adds a striking contrast to the cover. The large over-sized 'S' in 'Songs' is partly in the style of a treble clef which befits the title perfectly.
It is a great pleasure to see a book of such elegant and clean design, and examples such as this only affirm my belief that much craft has been lost from the graphics arts/printing industries over the past 100 or so years.
This book is wonderful 'find'. It's a true exemplar of what the Internet Archive is all about: once obscurely languishing in the repository of York University Music Department's Library, it's now available to everyone.
(...And my thanks to the Library for preserving this 100-year old book in such excellent condition.)